What: The Interview, a short film set during a job interview that goes off the rails on purpose.
Who: Fashion filmmaker Barnaby Roper.
Why we care: Ah, job interviews! What other opportunity in life does one get to combine the awkwardness of a first date with the formality of a Supreme Court trial? These interviews are about way more than whether a candidate has the right skill set to perform a series of tasks, though. Hiring managers want to get a sense of what kind of engine is revving beneath the hood, and what it will be like to have to interact with this potential employee regularly over a period of years in a variety of moods and situations. Given the stakes on both ends, interviews have become more and more personal over the years.
“Who or what has shaped who you are?” and “What would your best friend say they like least about you?” are among the questions a group of CEOs recently told Fast Company are among their favorites. They’re the kinds of questions that test an interviewee’s aptitude at question-answering more than the contents of their résumé, on a quest to determine that ever-elusive culture fit.
They also seem like a warm-up for the kinds of questions that come up in The Interview, a harrowing short film where getting a job feels more like taking the Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner.
The film takes place in a white sterile room where a young pharmaceutical futures specialist is auditioning for his next job. After the interviewer prepares his subject for what lies ahead by promising that this firm is a little “unorthodox” in its hiring practices, the questioning begins.
We start, immediately, at a 10—”How is your relationship with your father?”—and the questions only get more invasively probing from there. The interviewer, who speaks in an unnervingly soft and steady tone, except when he doesn’t, has encouraged the candidate to answer as quickly as possible, which quickly becomes impossible based on the direction of the questions. Any viewer who has ever felt the pulse-quickening fear of not being able to deliver the goods in an interview will be triggered by the interviewer’s face as he reacts to the candidate dodging a further delve into the question of whether God exists.
Fashion filmmaker Barnaby Roper has put together a deeply uncomfortable piece of work here, well before even getting to the disturbing final phase of the interview. By the end, you won’t know whether to be thankful your interview horror stories are nothing like this, or fearful that someday soon they may become that way.